I’ve talked endlessly about my black/white thinking and my tendency to avoid all-things-grey – even when it comes to how I think of food. I found this post from just under two years ago in which I was bemoaning my habit of labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Since then I’ve tried to move away from such emotive words and have tried ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ or ‘less-healthy’ or ‘sometimes foods’.
I realise though it’s probably less about the label and more about how I think of that food.
My mother gives up ‘chocolate’ each year for Lent. (I may have mentioned she is fairly religious, though not freakishly so!) It’s a habit she started as a youngster and has regaled me with a tale of accidentally (?!) eating an ice cream as a kid and then realising it had chocolate in it and having to ‘confess’ to her Anglican Minister.
Lent apparently started last week and so she’s started her annual ritual.
I think she’s amazing for doing it and when she was younger and struggled more with her diet, I was always surprised that she could so easily give up the stuff she liked for religious purposes but not to lose weight. (Like me, avoiding stuff with gluten – well, usually – but not able to avoid other unhealthy stuff!)
It’s interesting though how she decides what she can and can’t eat and it makes me realise that we all seem to live by an internal barometer. Not only does the barometer shape our important values-based decisions, but it seemingly shapes all other choices we make.
My mother avoids all sweet foods during Lent: cakes, chocolate, biscuits and desserts. And while she won’t each crisps, she can however, have savoury biscuits. I’m not sure where she stands on hot chocolate or sweetened hot drinks though (and must find out to satisfy my own intrigue).
Whatever her logic for deciding what’s ‘in’ and what’s not, it makes sense to her. And that’s all that matters.
I’m not going to second-guess her choices, as it’s not my place.
We can rarely be completely objective when we judge others and their behaviour. How we view the world around us is shaped by what’s happening in our own space. A year ago I would have rolled my eyes at someone who wasn’t exercising vigorously. And yet, I’m now that person struggling to go for a walk. Similarly I look at others and think their exercising behaviour is OTT excessive and obsessive.
And when it comes to how we label/see food, one person’s healthy choice, will be another’s calorie-laden disaster.
In my last post I talked about having curries and pre-made mixes for dinner. Not the healthiest of choices. If I was of a normal weight and worrying about the last few kilograms I might need to be a lot more careful. But… as I’m trying to avoid binges and enjoy real meals (rather than consume corn chips or chocolate for dinner), I’m happy to be eating food that most people would label as ‘normal’.
I don’t eat fruit but have recently started drinking a small amount of orange juice before breakfast (replacing my diet coke!). Now I know that juice isn’t necessarily good for you (concentrated fruit and high in calories) but I have a small amount diluted in water… and figure that – in terms of options – it’s better than many. Plus it means I can spend an hour or so on my computer before I need breakfast.
I found myself feeling judged recently and felt very self-conscious and insecure. I realised though, that I’m just as great an offender – though tend to keep bitchy thoughts in my own little head. Which leads me back to that internal barometer which is something that moderates our behaviour and only ‘we’ know and understand the decisions we’re making.
What’s something you label as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’, with which others may disagree?
Do you feel compelled to tell others if you think they’re making unhealthy food choices? (Is it your way or the highway?)